If you’re going to compare the bowl histories of the University of Wisconsin and Miami football teams, it’s helpful to check the frame of reference.
The Hurricanes have the longer and more distinguished history, with 40 previous bowl appearances and five national championships entering their Orange Bowl matchup with the Badgers on Dec. 30.
UW has played in a bowl game 28 times and has never won a national championship awarded by The Associated Press or, in more recent years, the Bowl Championship Series or College Football Playoff.
Narrow the focus, however, and the teams are a little more closely aligned.
Since Barry Alvarez joined the Badgers as head coach in 1990, both UW and Miami have appeared in 22 bowl games in 27 seasons; the Hurricanes are 11-11 while the Badgers are 13-9.
Miami won two national titles in that period, a distinction that will always serve to divide it from UW in a comparison of schools that share the designation as once having had Donna Shalala lead the campus.
Both teams have .500 records in their bowl game history: UW is 14-14; Miami is 20-20.
Both have experienced a healthy dose of season-ending heartbreak in the past decade. The Hurricanes lost six straight bowl games from 2008 to 2015. The Badgers were defeated at the Rose Bowl three straight times after the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Each attained a breakthrough achievement at a bowl game that has become its program’s signature destination.
For the Badgers, it was the Rose Bowl victory following the 1993 season, when the longest era of football success in school history was launched.
UW has played nine times at the Rose Bowl, more than any other bowl game.
For the Hurricanes, it was the 1983 national championship won at the Orange Bowl, the first of four titles won in nine seasons.
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And while this year’s Orange Bowl will be the Badgers’ first appearance in the contest and in a bowl game in Miami, the Hurricanes have made a habit of playing close to home.
Miami has played in the Orange Bowl nine times — 11 if you include its predecessor, the Palm Festival of the 1932 and 1933 seasons. It also has played two other bowl games near its Coral Gables, Florida, campus: the 1996 Carquest Bowl and the 1998 Micron PC Bowl.
In those 13 games, the Hurricanes were 9-4, so maybe home-field advantage means something in bowl season.
Then again, UW fans probably don’t need to be reminded of the two times the Badgers played a team in its home stadium for a bowl game. They defeated UCLA in the Rose Bowl following the 1993 and 1998 seasons.
Plus, UW already has downed Miami once in Florida, the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl that is the only bowl meeting to date between the teams.
That contest, in nighttime temperatures that dropped from 50 degrees at kickoff in Orlando, Florida, saw the Badgers dominate time of possession with a running game backed by John Clay.
Miami scored on the first play from scrimmage following a long opening kickoff return, but Clay had two rushing scores in the Badgers’ 20-14 victory.
The trip to Miami will make Florida the most frequent bowl game destination for the Badgers — the state had been tied with California with 10 UW appearances.
The Badgers, who are tied for the sixth-longest active bowl game streak at 16 seasons, have won three straight bowl games and can tie for the program’s longest bowl winning streak by beating Miami. UW won four bowl games in five seasons from 1998 to 2002, with the 2001 season being the last time it was ineligible.
And there’s a bit of long-range history on the line for UW. To find the last time it won its final game in four consecutive seasons, you have to go back to a stretch from 1917 to 1920. The team’s only other run of four straight victorious season finales was from 1891 to 1894, in the infancy of a program that was born in 1889.